Jazz bassist Matthew Garrison doesn’t like to slow down. “I’ve been thinking and doing,” he said.
As a performer, he’s touring with Herbie Hancock, and as a producer, he’s helping organize upcoming shows with pianist Jason Moran, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and others. But most of the time, he’s focused on producing music events through ShapeShifter Lab and its nonprofit arm, ShapeShifter Plus. He also created the app Tunebend, which facilitates virtual collaboration and recording among musicians.
Mr. Garrison, the son of John Coltrane’s bassist Jimmy Garrison, seems to enjoy pushing the boundaries in the jazz world. “I’m really tired of the stagnant music scene where this club only books a certain type of band and that club only books that type of musician,” he said.
For a decade, Mr. Garrison ran a performance space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, also known as ShapeShifter Lab, but it closed last year. Soon, he will open a new venue. “My new space is going to be a place for performers, those geniuses who refuse otherwise they wouldn’t be able to play in the city.”
Mr. Garrison, 52, lives in Park Slope with his business partner, Fortuna Sung, 51.
dark and quiet Post-pandemic times have been volatile. It sounds scary, but sometimes I wake up at 4am and I do a lot of work. I write code for my apps, including Tunebend, and tidy up on my computer for hours because everyone is sleeping. No one around is calling, texting or eavesdropping on you.
caffeinated nap I might have some coffee and a light breakfast. I have a weird relationship with coffee these days. It doesn’t keep me awake. I now use coffee as a sleep aid. I don’t know how that happened. So after a few hours of work and some coffee, I often go back to sleep.
working weekend I wake up again around 9 or 10 am and have another coffee. The music industry is a 24 hour thing. I’ve been communicating with people in Europe and Japan, so my weekends don’t count as days off. I have to divide my work hours and dedicate a specific amount of time across my three businesses to get everything done. On Sundays, I try to do things I can’t do on a weekday. But if I’m juggling too many tasks at the same time, I’ll make a mess.
pace Then I might create for a few hours. Or I go for a walk in Prospect Park, or meander the nearby streets. Sometimes I venture into Gowanus and Carroll Gardens. Fortuna said I was walking too fast, but I needed to get my heart rate up. My body tells me I need it.
song layer I listen to music on Tunebend as I walk. I listen and see how all the bits and pieces of the recording become layers of a song. You can change different performers for the same part, so I did a lot of listening and rearranging. But I’m also interacting with the app as a user to see if anything needs to be adjusted. I know it doesn’t look like it, but that’s how I unzip it.
pieced together When you code or compose, you are solving a problem. You are in continuous research mode to find out why something is done in a certain way. In the jazz world there are so many things you have to know and be able to play in a fraction of a second. In coding, you also have to remember all these bits and pieces to build something. The only difference between the two worlds is the salary!
new space I finally got the keys to the new performance space we will be opening at the end of the year. So far I’ve done a live workshop on how to use the Tunebend app, but I’m gearing up for a lot of fundraising so we can have shows and events here for all types of musicians.
subsistence We did our errands nearby, including grocery shopping from Park Slope Food Co-op. Fortuna from Hong Kong is the better cook. Her artist parents also owned and operated a restaurant, so she was familiar with the kitchen. When we eat out, it may be Japanese or Thai. We had dinner with my mom in Littleneck today.
old days After dinner, I will watch TV or read a book. I’m news-focused: there’s a lot to keep up with, and it makes me understand how to make the world a better place. I also like tech stuff, like articles about the latest plugins for music software. My mom still scolded me for doing all my reading on screen.Now I’m an old man time: I go to bed at 9 or 10 pm
Sunday Routine readers can follow Matthew Garrison on Instagram and Twitter @garrisonjazz.